View Full Version : Grand Designs; Ben Law
Just a quick heads up to let you know that tonight (Wednesday 24th) the Grand Designs episode with Ben Law making his woodland house is on.
Channel 4 at 9pm
video is set to replace the copy we had , :-D
just seen it. that house is such a good balance of natural and modern and how it should be. nt to mention the fact that its sogood looking. Its a lot more normal in the way you can live in it from what i expected and its somethig i could afford after i've done uni
but unfortunately you might not be allowed to build a house like Ben's.
IIRC he was only allowed to build it because of his job and if he ever changes job or is not living there any longer it must be taken down.
Well done John, gem of a programme. Thanks
larry the spark
Great show, glad I caught it!
You could still build in a similar way in a rural setting, using the same mix of modern and old technologies, though not everyone has the opportunity to try to do it in their own patch of woodland and using their own resourses! Sourcing the materials locally would be the next best thing.
As part of my degree we helped our professor of architecture build a turf roofed garage embedded into the earth and a straw bale experimental one roomed dwelling. These were at his house, a barn restored and converted and utilising green technologies.
Building a house one day in this vein is definitely something that i hope I get a chance to do.....but thats more than a few years away yet :cry:
The Problem we have is that plots, especially rural ones are at a premium. This means that the price of a plot with planning permission far exceeds the cost of a small house. They are inevitably purchased by the wealthy white collar worker and a 5 bedroom mansion built, that only another white collar worker can afford to buy generally neither of whom work locally?
So no room for the agricultural worker, young family or first time buyer in our rural community. Not even those capable of looking after their own interest and building their own shelter. :cry:
Best solution it seems is to move to Canada or New Zealand ?
Well done Ben for opening a few eyes and sorting himself out. Proving that it can be done and that our planning policies do not always have the right idea.
IMO Ben's house will stay, in the next 50 years it will become accepted, and part of the landscape. Maybe even an icon of sustainable development and preserved for posterity. Worst case scenario it will be sold, transported and re erected on another plot, maybe even in the Weald and Downe museum :wink:
Inspiring but frustrating at the same time.
larry the spark
Well said Rich. The restrictive state of rural planning today is a direct result of factors such as those you mentioned Rich and 'bungalow blight', which in the later part of the last century saw people moving into the countryside, buying plots of land and erecting buildings that had did not have a sympathetic relationship with the surrounding countryside.
Now this land is scarce and development in many parts is given to people from local communities (no bad thing IMO). Of course land now costs an awful lot but, there are many beautiful delapidated buildings in the countryside that are crying out for regeneration and it is these that can also provide a model for sustainable redevelopment. After all, reusing what is already there is probably the most sustainable form of development. Coupled with green technologies which enable the buildings to function in the way they were intended (breathe) and with minimal impact on the environment.
Lets hope Bens house doesn't end up in the weald and downland museum!
I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by the architect who deigned the Gridshell that was shown in the programme and his ideas on sustainable/green development was inspirational stuff.
Here Here, Restoration not Renewal ! Just all of those houses have been snapped up by builders as money making opportunities :cry: Problem is the house has become a commercial commodity no a home any longer.
That gridshell is an inspiration any way you look at it. :-D
larry the spark
You sound like a man who's tried and found the going tough Rich!! It is possible with persistance and tireless searching. Sure, a lot of the prime redevelopment properties have been snaffled up by the greedy devil-horned developers but there is a wealth of smaller farm buildings and cottages that maybe don't have the immediate appeal of say a barn or stable building.
Here in Northern Ireland there is a scheme called the Mourne Homesteads Redevelopment Trust which focusses its energies on the small (many only one room deep and two or three wide) vernacular buildings that 'litter' the Mountains of Mourne countryside. They employed an architect who evaluated how they could be restored and extended using green tech/traditional methods. The sad thing is that this method is still expensive compared to standard building methods as many of the skills have been lost.
Some guys just got £9000 grant from the objective one funding pot, and managed to build an Eco house in Tapley Park:
The main problem we have locally here is that rural developments are some of the cheapest in the country, and thus the most ugly and just plain awefull. Some prisons look more inviting then the estates around North Devon. If the Council will take notice of these chaps at Tapley park, the future could be roseyer for everyone. But when did councils ever listen to sense?!
As for building, the making of cement / concrete is a hugely damaging and pollutant processes. The more we can go towards using timber and natural materials the better; for sustainability, the environment and ones pocket!
As a Labourer I can you there’s also an instinctive pride from working with wood, that just doesn’t happen with grey goo and blocks. Straw bails, are easy to work with, and totaly customisable. It would invite creativity and design to a market that could not afford it before.
Hell if it took off, farmers might even be able to make a living once more!
I too dream of living in such a house.
Check out the Steward Community Woodland (http://www.stewardwood.org/index.html). Not sure if you need planning permission for temporary structures. I was walking near the city of Wells a couple of weeks ago and discovered a settlement similar to the Steward Community Woodland. It was tents and benders set up on a hill in a wood. Looked more like a traveller site, but interesting none the less.